Although Microsoft did some things right in 2009, the software giant also made some mistakes. The year was a story of ups and downs for Microsoft. It did a great job with Windows 7, but the OS still suffered from security issues. Microsoft launched Bing to much fanfare in 2009, but it still couldn’t capture significant market share to take on Google.
Unfortunately, that has been the story for Microsoft as of late. Although 2009 did see some good things come out of the company’s strategy, it couldn’t overcome the same troubles that have continued to haunt it.
As we look ahead to 2010 and the issues it will undoubtedly face, there’s no guarantee that the software giant will be able to overcome them. It’s facing more pressure from Google, more criticism from Apple, and more anger from the European Union. Whether or not it will confront those problems more effectively than it did in 2009 is a question mark at this point.
But for now, we must take a look back at 2009 to see what Microsoft did wrong during the past year.
1. Not stopping Apple’s onslaught
Over the past few years, Apple’s “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads have been extremely successful. They helped Apple gain notoriety in the mainstream, while damaging Windows’ reputation. For its part, Microsoft did try to combat those ads with some commercials of its own in 2009, but for the most part, they fell flat. Apple’s ads still reign supreme. And it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon.
2. Getting caught up in Google
Microsoft is obsessed with Google. Rather than focusing on its key products-Windows and Office-Microsoft decided to take on Google however it could. Granted, the Web is the future and Microsoft needs to play a major role in that, but competing with Google negatively affected other services, like Windows Mobile, that were in desperate need of attention in 2009. Microsoft can’t obsess over Google in 2010.
3. The multi-version fiasco
Microsoft had an opportunity with Windows 7 to totally eliminate the issues users had with Windows Vista. On the software side, it did a good job. But from a marketing perspective, it committed the same mistake of offering multiple versions of the operating system. By doing so, Microsoft only confused customers, making them wonder which operating system would suit their needs. One Windows version is enough.
4. Starter edition
One of Microsoft’s biggest blunders during 2009 was offering Windows 7 Starter edition. Users looking to buy netbooks with the new and improved Windows 7 were in for a rude awakening when they found out that several features in the standard version of the operating system weren’t available in Starter edition. Microsoft needs to spend time in 2010 optimizing the standard Windows 7 version to work with netbooks.
Microsoft Fighting Uphill Battles in Security, Web OS Fields
5. Taking the upper hand in security
Although Microsoft released Security Essentials for all current, supported Windows operating systems and offered up some new security features in Windows 7, the software giant still hasn’t engaged in the right strategies to stop malware’s onslaught on users. During the year, there were far too many zero-day exploits, patches, and vulnerabilities. Microsoft failed to take the upper hand in the battle for OS security. It must do so in 2010.
6. Not getting more out of Yahoo
Steve Ballmer might say that he’s happy with the pact that he and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz arrived at in 2009, but further inspection reveals that Microsoft took a major hit. The company doesn’t even own Yahoo’s search technology. It also needs to share a significant amount of revenue with Yahoo if the venture is successful. Yahoo made a great deal. Microsoft missed the mark.
7. Windows Mobile
What happened to Windows Mobile in 2009? The mobile operating system was beaten badly by Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry, and even Google’s Android platform. All the while, Microsoft did little to help Windows Mobile attract the kind of attention and fanfare that its competitors did during the year. The company better work harder in 2010.
8. The online OS
How Microsoft allowed Google to take the lead in online operating systems is anyone’s guess. Those that follow the software space are fully aware that services are moving to the Web. As a software company, it would only seem natural that Microsoft would lead that charge. It hasn’t. Sure, Microsoft has Azure to compete with Chrome OS, but when it comes down to it, only Chrome OS has earned the attention needed to attract users.
9. Zune HD
Releasing the Zune HD in an attempt to compete against the iPod was a mistake. The device might be great. It might even have neat features that users won’t find in the iPod. But it’s not an iPod and it lacks iTunes. The Zune HD’s days are numbered. Microsoft shouldn’t have wasted its time.
Although some in the financial sector might say that Microsoft’s decision to lay off 5,000 employees during 2009 was a sound one, I disagree. Microsoft generates billions of dollars in profit each year. The fact that the company was forced to lay off employees underscores its poor performance during these tough economic times. We also can’t forget that there were some major tech firms that weren’t forced to lay off employees during the financial crisis. Microsoft did. That tells us everything we need to know about its management in 2009, compared to the competition’s.